Can a Passenger Be Charged With a DUI?

Published: May 02, 2017, by admin in DUI, Legal Blog

If you are a passenger in a vehicle driven by a drunk driver, you may be wondering: “can a passenger get a DUI?” Only a vehicle’s driver can be charged with DUI, but as a passenger, there may be questions about whether you or not you were driving.

In the event that you are a passenger in a vehicle with a drunk driver and you find yourself in legal trouble, you need to consult a Chicago alcohol crimes attorney who can ensure your rights are protected. You should not be tried or convicted for a crime that you did not commit.

If you have been arrested or have questions about a DUI, contact our experienced Chicago DUI attorneys at O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706.

Elements of a DUI

To understand whether a passenger can be charged with drunk driving, you need to know the elements of a DUI in Illinois. You may be charged with DUI if you are driving or are in actual physical control of the vehicle and:

  • Your blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher
  • You are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs

Since passengers are rarely in actual physical control of vehicles, they cannot be charged with DUI. However, if there was an accident and you and the driver are standing outside of the vehicle, there may be some question about who was driving the vehicle. You may also face criminal charges if you grab or control the steering wheel as a passenger or the police officer believes that you switched positions with the driver after an accident.

What Happens When Your Driver Is Arrested for a DUI

If the car in which you are a passenger gets pulled over and there is a suspicion of DUI, you can expect a police officer to ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests. If the driver fails the field sobriety tests and gets arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will be transported to the police station and asked to take a breathalyzer test. The car may also be impounded.

If the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is .08 or greater, the authorities will bring DUI charges. In most cases, the driver will be released on a bond and given a court date as well as a driver’s license suspension notice. Your role as the passenger will be to remain as calm as possible and find a ride home once the police officer states that you are free to leave. You may use Uber, Lyft, or another ride-sharing service or call a dependable friend or family member to pick you up. If the car is not impounded, you may also be able to drive it home if the officer believes you’re sober.

How a Chicago Alcohol Crimes Attorney Can Help

If you were a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident, and there is some question about whether you were driving under the influence, you need an experienced Chicago alcohol crimes attorney from O’Meara Law by your side. Attorney Mike O’Meara will investigate your situation and build a strong defense strategy to prove that you were not in physical control of the vehicle.

Call 312-909-0706 for your free consultation.